If you are planning to go vegetarian or vegan and are concerned about your protein intake, worry no more. Add lentils to your diet.
Lentils, are edible seeds or pulses that can be cooked in a variety of ways. The most popular kinds are black, brown, red, yellow, yellow split peas, black-eyed peas, mung beans, soya beans and French green lentils. They are a rich source of protein, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, essential amino acids and contain a variety of minerals including iron, copper, potassium, manganese, phosphorous, molybdenum, vitamin B1 and folate. Legumes are also ideal for supporting heart health, managing diabetes, preventing cancer, improving digestion, aiding in weight loss as well as boosting the nervous system.
Below are some other health benefits of lentils:
1. They regulate blood sugar and manage diabetes
Lentils help to regulate sugar levels in the bloodstream preventing diabetes. In fact, it is suggested that individuals who suffer from type 2 diabetes should follow a diet rich in lentils. As lentils are high in soluble fiber they can help lower insulin and plasma glucose thereby stabilizing blood sugar. Studies have also shown that fiber contents help slow down the rate at which the blood absorbs food, thereby keeping sugar level constant.
2. They help lower cholesterol
Studies show that people who consume 3/4 cups of lentils or any other legume had 5% less generation of LDL (bad) cholesterol.
3. They prevent cancer
Lentils have also been found to counteract cancer. Research shows that foods rich in protein – such as lentils can have a positive effect on cancer cells. Protein has also been shown to create cytotoxin and apoptosis, meaning that they can manage the growth of cancer as well.
4. They improve digestion
As with other types of legumes, lentils can also boost the digestive process. Lentils are rich in dietary fiber, a non-digestible component that is beneficial in maintaining digestion. Additionally, fiber can promote bowel movement, preventing constipation and other problems associated with digestion. They also remove toxins from the body and ferment healthy bacteria, essential for the digestive tract.
5. They promote weight loss
It is estimated that a cup of lentils contains just 230 calories and occupies up to 63% of your requirement of daily fiber and protein – two components that keep you full for longer.
6. They boost the metabolism
The metabolism relies on rich sources of vitamins, including vitamin B3, which is essential for improving digestion and boosting the nervous system. The vitamin also stimulates the metabolic process, whereby it removes more toxins and harmful substances out of the body, bringing more nutrients to all parts of the body. Vitamin B3, also found in lentils, has been shown to control cholesterol levels and decrease the risks of diseases like diabetes, osteoarthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and cataracts.
7. They support brain health
Few foods contain as much folate as lentils do. Just one cup of lentils occupies up to 90% of your daily requirement of folate which plays an important role in the production of neurotransmitters, boosting the nervous system. Folate can also help prevent the risks of birth defects in pregnant women as well as blood disorders, making it a key nutrient for human health.
8. They improve electrolytic activity
Electrolytic activity plays an important role in the proper function of your body. Lentils contain a mineral known as potassium which is considered to be an excellent substitute for electrolytic activity. Besides acting as an electrolyte, potassium is also beneficial for the functioning of some organs, including the brain, the heart and the kidneys.
9. They boost energy
If you’re feeling a little low on energy, lentils are an excellent source. They are rich in minerals including iron and copper, both of which are essential in boosting energy production. While iron makes copper facilitate red blood cells and protect against anemia, copper plays a role in transferring energy from carbohydrates into the cells.
10. They improve heart health
Lentils have been found to lower the risks of coronary heart disease. The benefits of lentils are predominantly found in their source of fiber. Studies show that people who eat about 20g per day, experienced 11% fewer risks of cardiovascular disease and 12% fewer risks in comparison to those who eat less fiber. Lentils also contain magnesium, which contributes to cardiovascular health. Magnesium also helps prevent the occurrence of a heart attack and supports the heart after a heart attack has taken place.